10 / 10 / 2016


The Question: How (from your experience and perspective) do artistic practices create public sphere?

In order to answer the question I need to provide a minimum of contextualization to the idea of the public sphere and consider it as that margin of dialogue, or consensus, which is developed by means of active subjects. It does not mean that everything that happens in the common space is the public sphere, but instead what emerges on the basis of the debate or interactions that take place here. An empty city does not generate the public sphere, instead the content generated by the citizens or active subjects is where the real public sphere is located.

Based on that idea, I think that art as a science or a method of research generates the public sphere. If we understand that this is exclusively debate, anything can create the public sphere. Talking about football on Monday morning, for example, but its interest would be very superficial. Art, due to its complexity and to the broad range of ideas that work at the level of sociology, research, the humanities or language, greatly contributes to constructing the public sphere simply through the debate it arouses. Some of these debates might be poor, referring to monetary value for example. Those debates can generate the public sphere at a level that is perhaps similar to football on Monday. Going deeper into the matter, art (above all today) has the capacity to tell the story of what is happening at the social, political, aesthetic or philosophical level. If art is dedicated to narrating all of this, then in that way it is constructing the public sphere.

We increasingly see more relation between art and other fields, especially with all of the humanities, but also between art and science, art and medicine or art and sports. All of this means that art is a foundation with an increasing presence in all the fields of the social and in this way of course it generates the public sphere, because it is present in everything in some implicit way. A big company asked a photographer for a market study to find out whether cameras in phones were going to be successful. They commissioned this task to an artist as an example that art is very present in all fields.

I think that art is a motor for generating things that are later implemented in other fields, and as a whole they construct the public sphere. It forms part of the advance of thought and the construction of society. From a very basic terrain, the fact that a 14-year-old boy or girl takes out a skateboard or a can of spray paint and paints in his or her neighbourhood is generating the public sphere. So is the neighbour who sees her through the window and the next day goes up to her mother and says “look what your daughter has done”. The genesis of the whole public sphere is in those debates that emerge in the most everyday affairs.